Everyone was Italian, at least for a little while, at the 51st annual Caruso Club Italian Festival this weekend.
Kicking off on July 6 with live pro wrestling in what has become an unofficial tradition, the festival really got going with an opening ceremony on Friday night, followed by a Regions of Italy food fare and Festival of Stars variety show.
Following the singing of the Canadian and Italian national anthems by the Caruso Club choir (accompanied by an accordion of course) Stephanie Sindori, first vice-president of the Caruso Club board of directors, emceed the opening ceremony, which featured greetings from Italian Honorary Vice-Consul Diana Luele-Colilli, Sudbury MP Viviane Lapointe, Sudbury MPP Jamie West and Mayor Paul Lefebvre. Board Chair Christine Sansalone officially opened the festival.
“This goes to show the deep roots the Italian community has in our city,” Lefebvre told the crowd. “We wish you a great 51st Italian Festival.”
Saturday events included games for children, crafts, vendors, live music, dance lessons for children and adults, and food, particularly sausages and porchetta (yes, Sudbury’s favourite game, porchetta bingo was played this weekend as well).
The chair of the festival for the second year was Angela Corsi-Raso. She said while there are many reasons to attend the Italian Festival, for many Sudburians there is one major draw.
“They come for the food, let’s be honest,” Corsi-Raso said with a laugh. “Italian food doesn’t go out of style.”
Incidentally, one of the changes she made when taking over the organizing was to extend the Regions of Italy food fare from one day to three days to meet the enormous demand.
But for those who grew up in the Nickel City’s Italian community, the festival is something different — a homecoming of sorts.
“It’s a reunion,” Corsi-Raso said. “Lots of people come from out of town to come back for the festival.”
It’s one of the reasons she loves the festival so much, Corsi-Raso added.
“I like seeing everyone … there are some people you only see once a year at the festival,” she said. “It’s like getting caught in a time warp.”
And the event continues to be popular. While organizers don’t keep an official count, Friday’s opening night drew about 1,000 people.
Mark Gentili is the editor of Sudbury.com.